Mary Read

Story by Lois Carol Wheatley

Mary Read was an illegitimate child and her mother disguised her as a boy so she could find work. Her mother actually had a son previously with a husband who ran off, and when she conceived a daughter through an illicit affair she convinced her husband's mother to support her alleged new grandson.

As a teen Read served as a footman and later went to sea, fell in love with a sailor and jumped ship with him. They bought an inn and for the first (and only) time in her life she dressed as a woman. Then her husband died and she put on his uniform and enlisted in the army.

She deserted the army and signed on as a crew member aboard a ship bound for the West Indies. Calico Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny captured her ship, and Read became a pirate. When pirate hunters captured the Revenge, it is said that only the women, Bonny and Read, put up anything like a fight.

The pirates were brought to justice, all the men were convicted and sentenced to hang, but Bonny and Read both claimed they were pregnant and thereby escaped the noose. Read died in prison in 1721 and Bonny vanished from official records. It's possible her wealthy father paid for her release.

Terms: North Carolina Pirates, Mary Read

Information on North Carolina Pirate Mary Read.

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